Oakland, CA, United States
The King has arrived! LJ – formerly known as YaBoi Eljay – is a rapper/Hip Hop artist whose life purpose is all about getting his message out to the world. As the owner and CEO of his own record company, Music Forever Entertainment, he takes control of his destiny – he is the King of his domain. As an inspirational speaker and entertainer, his always positive message to the youth is the importance of their education and that they can achieve anything they desire with hard work, faith, dedication, and ambition – that they too can become Kings.
Lenard Anthony Gant Jr. – whose stage name is LJ, an acronym of “Lenard Jr.” – was born in Oakland, CA, raised by his two loving parents, who have supported him in his quest to be a music king.
LJ has been rapping since he was 11. For him, at first, it was just a great way to become more popular at school, but it also allowed him to use music to express himself.
Before, his passion had been basketball and football; his Lockwood Elementary School team took the second place trophy in the Eastlake YMCA Winter Basketball League. Now, that passion turned to rap. Growing up, he was inspired to rap by his cousins, who had their own local rap group called “Loced Out.” A Bay-area rap artist who goes by the stage name “Habitt” was also an early inspiration, as were the big names in rap, including Kanye West, E40, Too Short, and Snoop Dogg.
In the Spring of 2005, after performing at a talent show at Havenscourt Middle School, LJ concluded that he wanted rap to be his career. He began performing at more school talent shows as well as youth centers and other events and venues around California. By age 12 he was going to a studio – Sepia Sound Productions – and making his own music. His father, always encouraging him to pursue rap, also invested in his career. When LJ began working on his first CD, his father established a disk-making company – Genesis Sound Productions – to help him make the CD. His stay-at-home mom also helped whenever she could.
His first major rap performance was on January 15, 2007, at the age of 13. He performed at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco along with comedian Mark Curry and D’Wayne Wiggins from Tony Toni Tone. (He would perform there for 3 years in a row.) After the performance, Wiggins took him in as his protégé, and LJ began traveling with Wiggins and doing concerts for the next year or so.
LJ briefly pursued acting when he was 14, auditioning for TV shows, but once he turned 15, his acting interests waned. At about the same time, he got his first job, working at the Eden Youth Center, mentoring kids and helping them with their projects.
The success of his performance at Bill Graham also garnered him media attention. LJ appeared on the online national ABCTV news and the San Francisco Chronicle.
LJ was now investing in his own career, and by age 16, he started going to LA and elsewhere in California to do concerts. Rather than signing with a major record company, LJ decided to found his own record company, Music Forever Entertainment, which will also be used in the future to help other artists.
LJ has gone on to be featured on numerous Mixtapes alongside songs by Nicki Minaj, Trey Songz, and others. In 2010, his “Night Before Christmas” song reached the Top 50 Pop Chart and the Top 40 Urban Chart for College, Internet, and Satellite Radio, and it charted at #17 on the Online Radio Breakout Chart. In 2013, his “Get That Money” music video received 100,000 views in 2 months and the song charted at #141 on the National Top 200 Radio Chart. In 2013, his mixtape debut A.W.N.P. reached 300,000 downloads within the first two weeks of its release. In 2014, he was nominated for “Best Hip Hop Artist” at the 2014 AI Music Awards.
Always concerned about bringing his message to the youth, LJ has also completed four (thus far) hugely successful multi-city middle school and high school tours throughout California.
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